Let me declare  loud and proud – I love books. More to the point, I love reading. I actually have felt the shivers of anxiety when I haven’t had something near to hand to read. That’s why every room in our house has stacks of paperbacks and magazines on footstools and on shelves. In my sewing room, I have Threads Magazines dating back to the 90s when I started my first subscription, and I still take them out to review techniques and get ideas (everything old is new again). I have several cases of books that I’ve managed to cull from my collection but can’t yet bear to part with, even though they’ll go to the library to be resold to another book-lover. Guess that qualifies as hoarding, right?

Books with key shape door on concrete wall and ladderThere’s a bin of books in every bathroom, tucked beside the extra rolls of toilet paper, in the guest rooms beside the bright-light reading lamps, on shelves in the kitchen and in a separate book-crammed room we call the library.  Going in there and curling up on the love seat with a cosy throw over my knees makes me feel calm and comfy, even if I’m not actually reading.

For the last couple of years, I’ve subscribed to Audible for audio books. Why? I don’t have as much time as I’d like to sit down with a real book so I download dozens of audiobooks each year and find myself lost in listening to skilled narrators transporting me to other places and times.

Remember when you were a kid and played a game of ‘which sense would you give up if you had to’? I used to say hearing, because even without hearing you can absorb the world through the eyes. But the senses blunt with time. I’ve noticed that my sense of smell and my sense of taste are not as sharp or discerning as they used to be. I can live with that by changing my food selections and layering on the spices when I cook. But give up my sight (floaters and sparkles notwithstanding) or hearing, not so much. I’m not so sure I want to give up anything.

Here’s a brief video from the folks at Audible, outlining the best books (in their opinion) of 2014. How many have you read? How many do you plan to read?

This isn’t a contest. Whatever you do, you must do for pleasure, for learning, for the satisfaction of the craft of writing. Writers have to be readers. I know how much reading (listening) regularly has helped me recognize quality as well as dreck. My advice – pick up a paperback or hardcover book. Download an e-book. Strap your earphones on and listen to a new book. It doesn’t matter what the genre or the length. Just do it. You won’t have any regrets except if you don’t.

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